Chondroitin and glucosamine

Chondroitin and glucosamine are substances that occur in the cartilage of joints and provide good buildup and repair after damage. The quality of the cartilage has decreased with osteoarthritis ('wear'). Complaints such as pain and stiffness can arise. The idea is that eating chondroitin and glucosamine could help improve osteoarthritis. In this way these substances came into commercial trade and meanwhile generate millions of sales. Yet there is doubt about efficacy.

Efficacy of chrondroitin and glucosamine

In 2015 a literature study on effectiveness was published by a renowned research group (Cochrane). In this study, all the studies that had been done on the effectiveness of these supplements were collected. Eventually, 43 studies came through the selection, and the results of these studies were summarized. Most studies concerned the effects on knee osteoarthritis, and a limited number on hip and hand osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, most of the research was of poor quality. They looked at the decrease in complaints. They also looked at the change in the size of the joint gap, which can be seen as a measure of the quality of the cartilage. The conclusion was: glucosamine and chondroitin and the combination, in comparison with placebo, in the short term give a small improvement in the symptoms without too many unpleasant side effects. However, the studies that met high quality standards did not show a clear effect.

Another investigation

In a recently published animal experimental study, deliberate damage to the cartilage of a joint was caused. Therapy with chondroitin and glucosamine did not show recovery. It is true that results in animal experiments are not directly applicable to humans. But since the biology of the cartilage is the same, this study again moderates the optimism about the therapy with chondroitin and glucosamine.


Whether or not to use in osteoarthritis complaints? The advice of the Dutch Orthopedic Association walks a middle way: try it out for 3 months. Do you not notice any effect? Stop it.



Singh JA et al. Chondroitin for osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 28;1:CD005614.

Roman-Blas JA et al. The combined therapy with chondroitin sulfate plus glucosamine sulfate or chondroitin sulfate plus glucosamine hydrochloride does not improve joint damage in an experimental model of knee osteoarthritis in rabbits. Eur J Pharmacol. 2017;794:8-14.

NOV 2007. Diagnostiek en behandeling van heup- en knieartrose.